I’m voting and you should do it too
The national election is less than 40 days away, and the race is on amongst the parties and their candidates who are scrambling for votes and support.
Previous elections have shown us that a significant number of New Zealanders do not vote. Although the number is reported on, the reasons are not. So in this piece, I wanted to tackle some of the reasons why I amvoting, while also challenging some of the questions that I have encountered when people say they do not see the point in voting. I amhoping by the end of this piece I would have encouraged you to think about why you should vote.
Until recently I did not have a good answer for this question, I mean I grew up learning about the struggles of the Suffragettes, the women who protested for the vote and succeeded so now all women in
New Zealand have the right to vote. I also know that being able to vote in a democratic system is a privilege that not everyone in the world gets to do. Look at dictatorships like Syria or Zimbabwae where your everyday person does not get a say; they are just told that this is what is happening. Here in Aotearoa, we have an opportunity to have a say, to have our voice heard through our right to vote. We are lucky we can make a choice, and because of this, I amgoing to vote.
However, who should I vote for?
Personally, I amyet to find the perfect party, and I do not believe that there is such a thing as a perfect party. There are good policies, there are policies that are relevant to me, and then there are policies that I really couldn’t give a care for. However, this is the nature of political groups. So how will I decide who to vote for? I think of my own experiences, my own beliefs, what is important to me and I make my decision based on this. Due to a recent issue with a friend who has mental health issues, has been referred and cannot be seen until October, I will be looking closely at groups that are focusing on our health care system. There has been so much awareness around mental health in New Zealand, and things need to get better, so this is something I will personally be looking at. I encourage others to think about what is important to you, what do you want to see happen in our nation? Perhaps the party that focuses on these things could be the one you vote for?
But, willmy one vote even count?
I hear this a lot, ‘I am just one person’, and yes I agree, but I remind myself that when it comes to voting, in our democratic system, I amnot alone. I amone of many and if every ‘one’ person votes, my one vote becomes many and has been heard. My party might not get into power, or my local politician might not be Prime Minister, but I think of it this way. My one vote will help to create a fairer government by forcing the winning party to form coalitions and join forces with my party or others. So I do not see my vote as not helping, my voice matters and my vote does count.
Jean Allen is a doctoral student at the University of Auckland.